NEW YORK - In the wake of the World Health Organization's declaration of global health emergency in connection with an outbreak of a new virus, the U.S. government is advising American residents to not travel to China, where the virus was first identified.
"Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China," the State Department said its advisory. "Those currently in China should consider departing using commercial means. The Department of State has requested that all non-essential U.S. government personnel defer travel to China in light of the novel coronavirus."
Illnesses related to the coronavirus have sickened more than 7,800 people and killed at least 170 people in China, health authorities reported.
"Chinese authorities have suspended air, road, and rail travel in the area around Wuhan [province] and placed restrictions on travel and other activities throughout the country," the State Department said.
An emergency committee for the World Health Organization met in Switzerland on Thursday to advise the WHO director-general about the outbreak. The committee recommended that the director-general declare what the organization calls a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC.
"The Committee emphasized that the declaration of a PHEIC should be seen in the spirit of support and appreciation for China, its people, and the actions China has taken on the frontlines of this outbreak, with transparency, and, it is to be hoped, with success," the WHO said in a statement. "In line with the need for global solidarity, the Committee felt that a global coordinated effort is needed to enhance preparedness in other regions of the world that may need additional support for that."